Sample G40 from Gene Fowler, Skyline: A Reporter's Reminiscences of the 1920s. New York: Viking Press, 1961. Pp. 170-175. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,007 words 199 (9.9%) quotesG40

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Gene Fowler, Skyline: A Reporter's Reminiscences of the 1920s. New York: Viking Press, 1961. Pp. 170-175.

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I feel obliged to describe this cubbyhole . It had a single porcelain stall and but one cabinet for the chairing of the bards . It was here that the terror-stricken Dennis Moon played an unrehearsed role during the children's party . A much larger room , adjacent to the lavatory , served as a passageway to and from the skimpy toilet . That unused room was large enough for -- well , say an elephant could get into it and , as a matter of fact , an elephant did .

Something occurred on the morning of the children's party which may illustrate the kind of trouble our restricted toilet facilities caused us . It so happened that sports writer Arthur Robinson got out of the hospital that morning after promising his doctor that he be back in an hour or two to continue his convalescence . Arthur Robinson traveled with the baseball clubs as staff correspondent for the American . He was ghost writer for Babe Ruth , whose main talent for literary composition was the signing of his autograph . Robbie was a war veteran with battle-shattered knees .

He arrived on crutches at the Newspaper Club with one of his great pals , Oliver Herford , artist , author , and foe of stupidity . Mr. Herford's appearance was that of a frustrated gnome . He seemed timid ( at first , ) wore nose glasses from which a black ribbon dangled , and was no bigger than a jockey . Robinson asked Herford to escort him to the club's lavatory before they sat down for a highball and a game of cards . In the jakes , after Robbie and his crutches were properly stowed , Mr. Herford went to the adjoining facility . He had barely assumed his stance there when a fat fellow charged through the doorway . Without any regard for rest-room protocol , the hulking stranger almost knocked Herford off his pins . The artist-author said nothing , but stood to one side . He waited a long time . Nothing was said , nothing accomplished . The unrelieved stranger eventually turned away from the place of his -- shall we dare say his Waterloo ? ? -- to go to the door .

Mr. Herford touched the fat man's arm . `` Pardon me , sir . May I say that you have just demonstrated the truth of an old proverb -- the younger Pliny's , if memory serves me -- which , translated freely from the archaic Latin , says , ' The more haste , the less peed ' '' .

Governor Alfred E. Smith was the official host at the children's party . United States Senator Royal S. Copeland was wearing the robes of Santa Claus and a great white beard ; ; the Honorable Robert Wagner , Sr. , at that time a justice of the New York Supreme Court , was on the reception committee . I was in charge of the arrangements -- which were soon enough disarranged .

I had had difficulties from the very first day . When , in my enthusiasm , I proposed the party , my city editor ( who disliked the club and many of its members ) tried to block my participation in the gala event . Even earlier than that he had resented the fact that I had been chosen to edit the club's Reporter .

City editor Victor Watson of the New York American was a man of brooding suspicions and mysterious shifts of mood . Mr. Hearst's telegraphic code word for Victor Watson was `` fatboy '' . The staff saw in him the qualities of a Don Cossack , hence , as mentioned before , his nickname `` the Hetman '' .

The Hetman's physical aspects were not those of a savage rider of the steppes . Indeed , he looked more like a well-fleshed lay brother of the Hospice of St. Bernard . Nor were his manners barbaric . He had a purring voice and poker player's immobility of features which somehow conveyed the feeling that he knew where all the bodies were buried . He was the son of a Scottish father and an American Jewish mother , long widowed , with whom he lived in a comfortable home in Flushing . He had worked in the newspaper business since he was nineteen years old , always for the Hearst service . From the very first he regarded himself as Mr. Hearst's disciple , defender , and afterward his prime minister , self-ordained .

It was said that the Hetman plotted to take over the entire Hearst newspaper empire one day by means of various coups : the destruction of editors who tried to halt his course , the unfrocking of publishers whose mistakes of judgment might be magnified in secret reports to Mr. Hearst . Whatever the Hetman's ambitions , his colleagues were kept ill at ease . Among the outstanding members of the Hearst cabinet whom he successfully opposed for a time were the great Arthur Brisbane , Bradford Merrill , S.S. Carvalho , and Colonel Van Hamm . He also disliked Runyon , for no good reason other than the fact that the Demon's talent was so marked as to put him well beyond the Hetman's say-so or his supervision .

Runyon , for his part , had a contemptuous regard for Mr. Watson . `` He's a wrong-o '' , said Runyon , `` and I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw the Statue of Liberty '' .

Arthur `` Bugs '' Baer wrote to me just recently , `` Vic wanted to die in harness , with his head towards the wagon . He supported his mother and his brother , who afterwards committed suicide . Watson told me that his brother always sent roses to his mother , blossoms bought with Vic's allowance to him . ' And would you believe it ' , Vic added , ' she likes him better than she does me . Why ' '' ? ?

About the only time the Hetman seemed excited was when one of his own pet ideas was born . Then he would get to his feet , as though rising in honor of his own remarkable powers , and say almost invariably , `` Gentlemen , this is an amazing story ! ! It's bigger than the Armistice '' .

Some of the Hetman's `` ideas '' were dream-ridden , vaguely imparted , and at times preposterous . One day he assigned me to lay bare a `` plot '' by the Duponts to supply munitions to a wholly fictitious revolution he said was about to occur in Cuba . He said that his information was so secret that he would not be able to confide in me the origin of his pipeline tip .

`` I can tell you this much '' , he said . It's bigger than the Armistice '' .

I worked for a day on this plainly ridiculous assignment and consulted several of my own well-informed sources . Then I spent the next two days at the baseball park and at Jack Doyle's pool parlors . When I returned to make my report , the Hetman did not remember having sent me on the secret mission . He was busy , he said , in having someone submit to a monkey-gland operation . And I was to go to work on that odd matter . I shall tell of it later on .

The Hetman had a strong liking for a story , any story which was to be had by means of much sleuthing or by roundabout methods . Most of my stories were obtained by simply seeking out the person who could give me the facts , and not as a rule by playing clever tricks .

One day I tired of following the Hetman's advice of `` shadowing '' and of the `` ring-around-the-rosie '' approach to a report that Enrico Caruso had pinched a lady's hip while visiting the Central Park monkey house . I explained my state of mind to artist Winsor McCay and to `` Bugs '' Baer . Mr. Baer obtained a supply of crepe hair and spirit-gum from an actor at the Friars . We fashioned beards , put them on , and reported to the Hetman at the city desk .

Mr. Baer had an auburn beard , like Longfellow's . Mr. McCay had on a sort of Emperor Maximilian beard and mustache . As for myself , I had on an enormous black `` muff '' . This , together with a derby hat and horn-rim eyeglasses , gave me the appearance of a Russian nihilist .

`` We are ready for your next mysterious assignment '' , said Mr. Baer to the Hetman . `` Where to , sir '' ? ?

Mr. Watson did not have much humor in his make-up , but he managed a mirthless smile . Just then a reporter telephoned in from the Bronx to give the rewrite desk an account of a murder . The Hetman told me to take the story over the phone and to write it . While I was sitting at one of the rewrite telephones with my derby and my great beard , Arthur Brisbane whizzed in with some editorial copy in his hand . He paused for a moment to look at me , then went on to the city desk to deliver his `` Today '' column .

I thought it expedient to take off my derby , my glasses , and the beard ; ; and also to change telephones . I managed to do this by the time the great A.B. returned to the place where he last had seen the fierce nihilist . He stood there staring with disbelief at the vacant desk . Then he wrinkled his huge brow and went slowly out of the room . He had a somewhat goggle-eyed expression . He had been `` seeing things '' .

The Hetman's `` ideas '' for news stories or editorial campaigns were by no means always fruitless or lacking in merit . He campaigned successfully for the riddance of `` Death Avenue '' and also brought about the ending of pollution of metropolitan beaches by sewage . He exposed the bucket-shop racket with the able assistance of two excellent reporters , Nat Ferber and Carl Helm . In the conduct of these and many other campaigns , the Hetman proved to be a much abler journalist than his critics allowed .

It seems to me now , in a long backward glance , that many of the Hetman's conceits and odd actions -- together with his grim posture when brandishing the hatchet in the name of Mr. Hearst -- were keyed with the tragedy which was to close over him one day . Alone , rejected on every hand , divorced , and in financial trouble , he leaped from an eleventh-floor window of the Abbey Hotel in 1937 .

One finds it difficult to pass censure on the lonely figure who waited for days for a saving word from his zealously served idol , W.R. Hearst . That word was withheld when the need of it seemed the measure of his despair . The unfinished note , written in pencil upon the back of a used envelope , and addressed to the coroner , makes one wonder about many things : `` God forgive me for everything . I cannot ''

Much to Damon Runyon's amazement , as well as my own , I got along splendidly with the Hetman ; ; that is , until I became an editor , hence , in his eyes , a rival . Not long after Colonel Van Hamm had foisted me on the Watson staff I received a salary raise and a contract on the Hetman's recommendation . During the next years he gave me the second of the five contracts I would sign with the Hearst Service . It was a somewhat unusual thing for a reporter to have a contract in those days before the epidemic of syndicated columnists . I would like to believe that my ability warranted this advancement . Somehow I think that Watson paid more attention to me than he otherwise might have because his foe , Colonel Van Hamm , wouldn't touch me with a ten-foot blue pencil .

I remember one day when Mr. Hearst ( and I never knew why he liked me , either ) sent the Hetman a telegram : `` Please find some more reporters like that young man from Denver '' . Watson showed this wire to Colonel Van Hamm . The colonel grunted , then made a remark which might be construed in either of two ways . `` Don't bother to look any further . We already have the only one of its kind '' .

The Hetman did have friends , but they were mostly outside the newspaper profession . Sergeant Mike Donaldson , Congressional Medal of Honor soldier , was one of them . Dr. Menas S. Gregory was another . I used to go with Watson to call on the eminent neurologist at his apartment , to sit among the doctor's excellent collection of statues , paintings , and books and drink Oriental coffee while Watson seemed to thaw out and become almost affable .

There was one time , however , when his face clouded and he suddenly blurted , `` Why did my brother commit suicide '' ? ?

I cannot remember Dr. Gregory's reply , if , indeed , he made one .